Former Physiology Course Faculty Receive Lasker Awards

Former Physiology Course Faculty Receive Lasker Awards
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Congratulations to two former MBL Physiology Course faculty members: C. David Allis of Rockefeller University, co-recipient of the 2018 Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award; and Joan Argetsinger Steitz of Yale University, who received the 2018 Lasker~Koshland Special Achievement Award in Medical Science.

These are among the most valued awards in science. Excerpts from the award announcements are below:

“The Lasker Basic Research Award honors Michael Grunstein (University of California, Los Angeles) and David Allis (Rockefeller University) for discoveries elucidating how gene expression is influenced by posttranslational covalent modifications of histones − the proteins that package DNA within chromosomes. For many years, scientists did not appreciate the importance of histones in gene expression. Histones were largely believed to be simply the glue that held DNA together in chromosomes. This view began to change in the early 1990’s when Grunstein initiated genetic experiments in yeast cells that demonstrated a requirement for the N-terminal tails of histones in activating and silencing genes…. His ground-breaking work set the stage for Allis’ classic biochemical experiments in 1996 which … when considered together with the genetic studies of Grunstein, provided solid evidence for the role of histone acetylation in gene expression. A flood of research rapidly ensued. Hundreds of scientists began working in this new field …”

 “The 2018 Lasker~Koshland Award for Special Achievement in Medical Science honors an individual whose lifetime contributions have engendered among her colleagues the deepest feelings of awe and respect. For four decades, Joan Argetsinger Steitz (Yale University) has provided leadership in biomedical science. She has made pioneering discoveries about RNA biology, generously mentored budding scientists, and vigorously and passionately supported women in science. She has generated a cascade of discoveries that have illuminated wide-ranging and unanticipated functions for RNA molecules within our cells, and has served as a role model in multiple ways, especially for rising female investigators. Steitz has campaigned for full inclusion of all members of the scientific community, fueled by the conviction that reaching this goal is necessary to ensure a robust and innovative scientific enterprise.”